We are at the start of the busiest hiring month of the year – January. Department heads and HR executives have assessed their talent needs and are preparing to screen and scrutinize the influx of resumes that every new year brings.

Is your resume ready to compete? To rise to the top and land an interview, your resume not only needs to stand out from a sea of other well-qualified candidates. It must also stand up against the rigors of the applicant tracking systems (ATS) and LinkedIn searches.

Begin by crafting a well-differentiated value proposition statement. Much like an elevator pitch, your resume needs a quickly scannable, high-impact statement to position you above other candidates. Your resume will be reviewed for only six seconds initially. If it doesn’t immediately grab a reader’s attention, your cause is lost before it started.

Focus on what you can do for a potential employer – what you bring to the table and how you can hit the ground running. Demonstrate how your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) meet the employer’s requirements and how your experience goes beyond those KSAs to add value. Accomplishments will always trump responsibilities. Tell a story around how you made a difference and the results of your efforts. Employers will be far more impressed that you “increased sales 32% over a one-year period” than that you “maintained the client database.”

Keywords are a critical component of any resume. Formatted correctly and strategically, they can attract a reader’s attention and quickly tell them if you are the right fit for the job. Appropriately selected, they will move your resume through the ATS screening and on to the decision-maker’s desk.

Related: Why You Should Think Twice about Writing your own Resume

The content you choose to include will also impact the success of your resume. Discrimination around age, political and religious affiliations, and background is rampant. Be discerning about how far back you detail your work history and the organizations you volunteer with.

All of these components to resume writing can make writing your own resume nothing less than a daunting task. Choosing fonts and formatting resumes to pass the ATS and be visually appealing is part art and part science. Selecting accomplishments that will be relevant, meaningful, and impactful to a potential employer can be difficult when you are emotionally invested in your career, and rightly so.

To ensure that your resume ticks all the right boxes and that you capture the opportunities that abound in the new year, consider hiring a professional resume writer. An experienced and credentialed expert will transform that simple piece of paper into the key that unlocks the door to your next position.

Learn more about our Professional Resume Writing Services